The average cost of international health insurance in Dubai in 2017 is US$8,959, down from the $10,213 reported for 2016, notes the insurance intermediary Pacific Prime in its "Cost of International Health Insurance Report". The decrease makes Dubai the ninth most expensive location for international health insurance this year, compared to its sixth placing in 2016.
The report presents a ranking of the average premiums in 100 countries, with findings based on combined data from 10 major insurers, which each offers three levels of health insurance plan: inpatient only, inpatient + outpatient, and inpatient + outpatient + maternity. The four demographics used to generate the premium data for the report are: individuals, couples, families, and retirees.
Pacific Prime notes that the recently introduced mandatory health cover in Dubai has essentially made it nearly impossible to adequately compare plans in the emirate with the plans available in the rest of the world. While for the most part, international plans cover the same things, plans underwritten in Dubai for residents living there must meet certain requirements (e.g. maternity and preexisting conditions coverage) that are not commonly found in other countries.
Therefore, in order to be able to draw as accurate an overview as possible, Pacific Prime has taken plans from Dubai that closest represent the other plans used. As such, it finds that there are reasons for the drop in Dubai’s ranking in 2017.
For instance, when comparing the plans in Dubai and elsewhere, it is found that while the same type of coverage is offered in Dubai, there are lower limits associated with certain types of things covered like maternity. Because the costs of maternity care are so high and varied, more restricted coverage limits can help ensure slightly lower premiums. That said, while there were lower costs for the highest type of coverage, insurance premiums for the other plan types were equal or well above the averages seen in other countries in the region of Asia. Beyond that, compared with the premiums charged in 2016, Pacific Prime did see most premiums increase year-on-year.
By law, all plans underwritten in Dubai for residents in the Emirate must meet specific minimum coverage requirements set by the Dubai Health Authority. In Dubai’s case, the increase in what needs to be covered along with claims that will be submitted and insurance regulations have made it increasingly difficult to manage costs.
Some insurers are thus starting to develop plans that offer lower levels of coverage in comparison to similar plans offered outside Dubai, even if these plans do meet the mandatory coverage requirements. Despite this, premiums will still rise as demand for care and utilisation continues to increase in the country.